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HISTORY    AS   A    BRANCH    OF    LITERATURE

put his finger on what is perhaps the* most important
contribution that historical fiction can be regarded as
having made to historical study. At the opening of
Ivanhoe he describes, in the general terms which an
historian might use, the relations between the Anglo-
Saxons and the Normans in England some time after the
Norman Conquest. We all know, however, that a mere
formula for a general relationship, such as this, is poor
matter for the mind to brood upon, unless the student
can picture how the consequences would manifest them-
selves in the concrete world, in the detailed happenings
of life; there ttiust be some sense of the kind of pre-
dicaments and situations which that general relationship
would be liable to produce. Scott brings fiction to
help out our historical imagination, to transform the
general statement into a concrete picture; and the early
dialogue between Gurth and Wamba in Ivanhoe enables
him to plunge into the task of showing in detailed
specification what the generalised formula has behind it,
what the mere piece of historian's shorthand really
signifies. Similarly in the introduction to The Monastery
he announces his intention of showing what the
Reformation" conflict actually meant in terms of human
life and vicissitude. He consciously uses the novel in
order to transpose the generalisation of the historian
into a picture of tangible things.

It was said of Scott that " He "had something like a
personal experience of several centuries". He so
soaked himself in the Covenanters that he did not need
to remember things about them—he could think their
way and feel what they would do or say in various kinds

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